2017 Chevrolet Camaro: 50 Years of ‘Pony’ Car Performance
By Mike Blake - Carlisle Events
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Looking great and performing young for being 50 years old, the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro continues to make history. Launched in 1967 to compete in the “Pony” car segment, the Camaro offered sporty performance at a competitive price … and the “Pony Wars” had begun. Playing off Chevy’s line-up of “C-named” cars that included Corvair, Chevelle, Chevy II and Corvette, GM product managers, said, the made-up name “Camaro” was “French in origin,” and was “… a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs.”
I owned a Red 1967 Camaro 4-speed stick, with a standard 327 V-8 (5.4-liters) and the beast weighed 3227 pounds. I thought its 210 hp and 320 lb.-ft. were really something back then -- I had a 2bbl, though the 4bbl was rated at 275 hp and 355 lbs.-ft. Well get a load of the 2017 model …with a 6.2-liter V-8 engine that produces 455 hp and 455 lbs.-ft.
In the second year of its sixth generation, the 2017 Camaro builds on its legacy as the top-selling car in the segment for the past six years, with styling, performance, tech and infotainment to keep it atop the leaderboard.
After last year’s revise, Camaro stands pat essentially, and new for 2017 are an available 50th Anniversary Edition; a “FIFTY” badge on the steering wheel of all models; a Teen Driver feature that allows parents to set controls, review driving habits and encourage safe driving habits even when they are not in the vehicle; and a new exterior color is being offered: Arctic Blue Metallic
Produced at GM’s Lansing Grand River assembly plant in Lansing, Michigan, Camaro is muscular and sporty with sculpted creases, a proud undergrille and a low and wide architecture that hugs the road and turns heads.
Camaro sits on the same critically acclaimed platform that Cadillac uses for the ATS and CTS sport sedans. Its lean, muscular appearance powerfully engulfs its dimensions of 188.3 inches in length, 74.7 inches in width and 53.1 inches in on a 110.7-inch wheelbase. My test Coupe weighed in at 3697 lbs – curb weight -- and the package is confident on the road and on the track.
Camaro’s exterior is enhanced with unique 20-inch wheels, Camaro-specific grille with satin chrome accents; body-color front splitter; orange front brake calipers; distinctive black leather interior with suede inserts and orange accent stitching; exclusive 50th Anniversary treatments on the instrument panel, headrests, steering wheel and illuminated sill plates; and standard HID headlamps and LED daytime running lamps.
The most powerful Camaro ever, its standard 6.2-liter LT1 direct-injected Small Block V-8 engine is responsive and muscular. While the original Camaro performed to the tune of a 10.7-second zero-to-60mph dash and an 18.2-second quarter-mile, this 50-Year celebration of automotive stallionism finished off the sprint in 4.5 seconds during a 12.8-second quarter-mile.
EPA rated at 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, I was not shy about flooring it and smoking tires during my weeklong test, yet I still averaged 21.6 mpg.
Camaro’s ZF rack-mounted electric, power-assisted and variable ratio rack-and-pinion steering was attentive and compliant, and the MacPherson-type front and rear struts with dual lower ball joints, twin-tube struts and direct-acting stabilizer bar gave a driver’s feel while smoothing out terrain for passengers.
Inside, my Coupe was packed with such standard items as a 6-speaker audio system, Chevrolet MyLink Radio with 7-inch diagonal color touch-screen, AM/FM stereo with seek-and-scan and digital clock that includes Bluetooth streaming audio for music and select phones, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability for compatible phone, On-Star, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, 8-way power sport bucket seats, leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel, leather-wrapped shift knob, driver information center, compass display, power windows and programmable door locks, keyless access with push-button start, cruise control, power trunk release, manual rake and telescopic steering wheel and air conditioning with single-zone automatic climate control.
Interior room had its highs and lows with a cozy 38.5 inches of front headroom and legroom of 43.9 inches. Rear accommodations are cramped at 33.5 inches of headroom and only 29.9 inches of child-worthy legroom. Shoulder room is comfortable at 55 inches.
Standard safety items include a rear vision camera, dual-stage frontal, thorax side-impact and knee airbags, driver and front passenger airbags, and a head curtain side-impact set up as well as GM’s Passenger Sensing System.
2017 Camaro Coupes start at $26,900 for the 1LS (including $995 in destination freight charges) and 2017 Camaro Convertibles start at $32,900. The Coupe moves to the 1LT at $27,595; $31,400 for the 2LT; $37,900 for the 1SS and $42,900 for the 2SS.
My 1LS Coupe in Red Hot (I love Red Camaros) could have spiffed up with a number of cosmetic decals, stripes and ground effects packages, but it stayed stock-true except for a Body-color wing spoiler for $575; the Technology Package for $800 (Chevrolet MyLink® Radio with 8-inch diagonal color touch-screen and Bose® premium audio system); and On-Star Guidance with Turn-by-Turn Navigation and Stolen Vehicle Assistance for $349. That put the sticker-as-tested under $30k at $28,275.
And Camaro fans can celebrate 50 years of Camaro at the all-new Carlisle Chevrolet Nationals at Carlisle (PA) Fairgrounds, June 23-25. Home to a diverse group of General Motors vehicles, from vintage muscle to the modern 6th Generation Camaro, this event was formerly known as the GM Nationals. The name change was meant to reflect the ever-growing number of enthusiasts who buy and enjoy Chevrolet products. Of course the weekend isn’t limited to bow-tie branded cars and trucks either. The Chevrolet Nationals also includes any and all makes and models produced by General Motors. But for Camaro enthusiasts, check out the 2018 Camaro ZL1 display.
Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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